U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Annual Report Highlights Benefits of new Accela-based e-Permitting System
‘Permits Online’ electronic filing system helps Bureau maintain service levels amid surging applications from alcohol and tobacco businesses
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 – The 2011 Annual Report of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), published earlier this year, emphasizes the numerous benefits achieved with the Bureau’s new Permits Online system, powered by technology from e-government solutions leader Accela, Inc. The complete report, accessible at www.ttb.gov/foia/ttbar2011.pdf, details how the new system has enabled TTB to cost-efficiently fulfill its mandates—despite reductions in staff and strong growth in beverage alcohol producer and wholesaler permit applications.
With approximately 500 staff, TTB is responsible for enforcing and administering laws connected to the production, use, and distribution of alcohol and tobacco products. Alcohol-related businesses wishing to operate above the retail level must submit an application with TTB’s Cincinnati-based National Revenue Center (NRC), which has been a primary beneficiary of the Permits Online system. TTB also issues permits to tobacco producers, importers, and export warehouses, while firearms and ammunition businesses also must register with TTB before making tax-free sales.
According to TTB’s 2011 Annual Report, the permit processing workload had increased by 56 percent prior to the launch of the system, and the Bureau had begun to estimate 90-day turnaround times for original permit applications by the end of fiscal 2011, compared to 65 days in fiscal 2010, unless major steps were taken.
Moving from a heavily paper-based system, TTB last year deployed Accela Automation® enterprise software as the backbone of Permits Online, combined with use of the companion Accela Citizen Access™ online portal application. Significant system features include online self-registration, self-monitoring of an application’s status, and electronically guided assistance through the application process. The built-in prompts and self-help instructions at each step of the application process also assure that applications reaching TTB specialists are completed correctly and contain all the required documentation.
According to the 2011 Annual Report, the impacts of the first two releases of Permits Online have been substantial.
- Certain industry members—alcohol wholesalers, alcohol importers, wineries, specially denatured alcohol users or dealers, and tax-free alcohol users—can now complete and submit their permit applications online. These industry members account for more than 70 percent of the total number of original permit applications TTB receives—and more than 60 percent of these applicants have elected to file electronically.
- Permits Online has created workflow efficiencies that have delivered a 23 percent reduction in processing times—with electronic applications processed 17 days faster than paper applications received at the same time.
- Permits Online also saves approximately six days on mailing delays, from the time customers submit their applications to the time they receive their approval documents.
The Annual Report noted that TTB’s strategic investment in Permits Online was critical to improving business results for a program that performs an important role both in consumer protection and in supporting the nation’s economic recovery. “Not acting on delays in permit issuance would have placed TTB in an anti-business posture at a time when job creation and United States competitiveness abroad are national priorities,” the Report read. “The new businesses permitted by TTB are predominantly small businesses [which] contribute to job opportunities locally and to America’s competitiveness in the global market.”
Accela CEO and President Maury Blackman lauded TTB’s results. “Federal agencies like TTB perform vital functions that benefit consumers and the economy,” Blackman stated. “We’re proud that Accela’s advanced technologies—used with great success by hundreds of state and local agencies—are helping TTB to more effectively fulfill its important mission.”
The Accela-based Permits Online system was deployed with the assistance of Federal ePermits, a joint venture between Washington-based TechGlobal, Inc. and Peak Technology Solutions, Inc. Due to its exceptional work on the Permits Online project, Federal ePermits received the Department of Treasury’s “Small Business Prime Contractor” award for 2011.
Headquartered in Washington, TTB operates major facilities in Ohio (the NRC), Maryland, and California. TTB also supports a substantial mobile workforce nationwide. TTB’s mission is to collect the Federal taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition products and to protect the consumer of alcohol beverages from unsafe or improperly labeled products. Additionally, TTB’s role in permitting and regulating the alcohol and tobacco industries ensures a fair marketplace, enhanced trade opportunities and a level playing field for lawful industry. Further information on TTB services may be found at: www.ttb.gov.